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March 13, 2013 / Ingrid

Saddest ~ Most Memorable Day of My Life

March 10th, 2013 will be remembered forever…

Our son, Jesse Scott Hourigan, was laid to rest.

The morning started early and weather was fitting…gloomy sky with misty rain. We arrived at the O’Guinn Family Funeral Home in Clio at around 9:00 a.m. Immediately, I began decorating the small chapel room (overflow room) with lots of memorabilia…poster boards with pictures, family portraits, Jesse’s school keepsake book, photo albums, wooden bats, hats & team photos from Fenton High School and Roxboro Community School and of course the baseball painting. The Katie Wyatt Memorial Foundation family also created a beautiful poster board filled with wonderful pictures and Jesse’s big smile. I chose to do this since Jesse would not have a graduation party, and I wanted to include all visitors in the Celebration of his Life. The numerous gorgeous flower arrangements, sprays, plants, fruit basket, framed pictures and bird bath were beautifully displayed in in both the small and large chapels.

Family visitation was from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Scott and I were the first to privately view Jesse. I wasn’t sure what to expect, especially because of his appearance the night we left the hospital. This may sound strange, but I was so happy to see him. Jesse looked so good, at peace, and even had a slight smile. He always loved getting dressed up, especially in a suit and tie, so his attire was appropriate. I stood with him several times during the day holding his hand and touching his head…oh, my precious boy. After Savannah came in to say her goodbyes, the rest of our family paid their respects.

Friend visitation was from 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. It was absolutely amazing to see all of the people! N. Carolina was greatly represented, in addition to Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, S. Carolina and Washington D.C. There were approximately 400 visitors in attendance. The viewing line somehow started right next to my chair in the front row, which enabled Scott and me to greet each guest, give lots of hugs and share encouraging words. It was such a blessing to have the support of our wonderful extended family, reunite with friends from many years ago, meet so many of Scott’s work friends and plant seeds of hope in the children letting them know….”This is not the end of the story, You will see Jesse again.”

At approximately 2:15 p.m. Scott and I said our last goodbye to Jesse…I did not want to let him go. I held his hand, touched his soft beautiful hair and put my head on his chest…oh, how much I love him!

Pastor Gerald Hodges began the sermon with a special song by Casting Crowns, I’ll Praise You in this Storm. I chose this song because it was the first and only song I learned to sign/worship dance to. Also, our whole family loves this song, even Jesse. A favorite part is “Every tear I’ve cried, You hold in Your hands, You never left my side, my heart is torn, I’ll praise You in this storm.”

Uncle Tommy then read the cherished poem he wrote for Jesse about being at their Kentucky farm:

Jesse’s Wish

The company of a dog and the sound of a creek, A starlit sky with an asteroid’s streak, A flat calm pond with the sun on the rise, A picture painted perfect for your eyes, A deer on the run or a squirrel in a tree, Either one is a sight to see, Young love blossoms you see it on their face, They love to shoot and leave a mark on this place, We gather around the campfire young and old, Reliving the years as the stories unfold, Now only God knows what the future holds, And He has given us this time for our unsettled souls, Soon this will be a memory embraced, Jesse’s wish to gather at this place, He loves the outdoors and the call of the wild, It is the least we could do for the love of the child.

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I had agreed to speak to all in attendance, now this was a real stretch. There was so much I wanted to share about Jesse, his courage, his strength, his fight, his heart, his smile…him simply being my miracle. But since I am terrified of public speaking, I chose to keep it simple and read aloud my prayer of thanks:

“Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for your grace and mercy. Thank you for all blessings big and small. Thank you, Father, for personally blessing my life with the gift of our son Jesse Scott Hourigan. This gift has changed my life forever. As a family, we have experienced so many wonderful adventures, having many homes & making so many friends around the nation. I’m also thankful for the hard times because during those times we grew as individuals, bonded as a family and most importantly trusted in You. Lord, I cried out to You on the day of Jesse’s diagnosis, repeatedly saying, “Not now Lord, please don’t take him now, I’m not ready!”. Thank You Lord for answering my prayer. Thank you for giving me – us – more time with Jesse. From the day of diagnosis, December 7, 2011 thru the day You called him home, March 6, 2013, I trusted and will always trust in Your plan. Lord, it sure was a rocky road with many highs and lows but I know I was covered in love and prayers because of the peace I’ve had during the most difficult times.

I am so thankful that Jesse asked Jesus into his heart at a young age and professed his faith with Baptism in Colorado. Lord, I thank You for the opportunity to share my faith and testimony with Jesse especially when he expressed concern about his salvation because of ‘fun’ things he liked to do. I shared with Jesse that You loved him no matter what and that it did not take the 15 times of asking Jesus into his heart for it ‘to stick’. Lord, thank You for blessing us in the last 15 months with Jesse and having the privilege to see his heart change and soften.

Thank You Lord for taking Jesse home…where there is no pain or sorrow. Thank You for restoring his body to like new again, so he can run…oh, run so fast…no more wheelchairs, ramps, handicap parking, family restrooms, neck towels…Jesse is free! I know Jesus met Jesse with open arms and a huge hug…waiting their turns were his Great Grandad & Grandmom, Abbo & Grandy, Great Grandpa Diffin, Great Grandpa LaFreniere, Great Grandpa Thomas, Great Uncle Kenny and so, so, many more. I am so thankful Jesse promised me that he too would be first in line to greet me when I go home.

Lord, I know You sacrificed Your son, Jesus Christ, for our salvation. I, too, know how it feels and I give You thanks for the peace You are pouring over me and my family.

In Jesus Name, I pray all of these things, Amen.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Pastor Gerald fervently expressed that Jesse did not lose his fight! Jesse fought and faced his enemy head on. He endured high dose chemotherapies, chemo toxicity, survived the ICU, learned how to swallow, eat, talk and use his extremities again. He learned to look forward to this three days a week, three hours a day physical and occupational therapies. He loved going back to school even though he was in a wheelchair and needed assistance taking class notes. Jesse kept going, working, striving and fighting until his body could no longer take it. He conquered what most could only dream of! He won…leaving us all feeling inspired by his courage.

Pastor Gerald also eloquently intertwined our faith with the last 18 years of Jesse’s life. He explained that our family has built our foundation on a rock as quoted in Matthew 7:24-27:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It was remarkable the way Pastor Gerald went through Jesse’s timeline sharing stories about his love for the children, the elderly and the underdogs. Hunting and baseball were his favorite past times. Jesse’s weight and physical fitness were also very important to him…he was doing pull-ups all throughout his fight with cancer, up until the last week. We gave thanks that Jesse had accepted Jesus as his savior at a young age but also acknowledged the struggles he had as a teenager…actually like we all have. The pastor then shared bullets of Jesse’s Journey after the day of diagnosis. Listening to all that Jesse had endured from beginning to end caused much sadness in my heart. As I reflected, it’s like I had lost all concept of time and circumstance because I had been living in the ‘now’ taking care of Jesse’s immediate needs. Looking at the silver lining of his past 15 months, I am so thankful he was not taken right in the beginning, so thankful for our time as a family, so thankful for the last memories made traveling, visiting, sitting quietly and so thankful he is no longer in severe pain wondering “When and how will I die?”. He is now at peace, pain free, no tears, no fears…just free! Amen.

The service was closed with a non-traditional song…

“We Weren’t Born To Follow” by BonJovi

This one goes out to the man who mines for miracles
This one goes out to the ones in need
This one goes out to the sinner and the cynical
This ain’t about no apology
This road was paved by the hopeless and the hungry
This road was paved by the winds of change
Walking beside the guilty and the innocent
How will you raise your hand when they call your name?
Yeah, yeah, yeah
We weren’t born to follow
Come on and get up off your knees
When life is a bitter pill to swallow
You gotta hold on to what you believe
Believe that the sun will shine tomorrow
And that your saints and sinners bleed
We weren’t born to follow
You gotta stand up for what you believe
Let me hear you say yeah, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
This one’s about anyone who does it differently
This one’s about the one who cusses and spits
This ain’t about our livin’ in a fantasy
This ain’t about givin’ up or givin’ in
Yeah, yeah, yeahWe weren’t born to follow
Come on and get up off your knees
When life is a bitter pill to swallow
You gotta hold on to what you believe
Believe that the sun will shine tomorrow
And that your saints and sinners bleed
We weren’t born to follow
You gotta stand up for what you believe
Let me hear you say yeah, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
Let me hear you say yeah, yeah, yeah, oh yeah
[guitar solo]
We weren’t born to follow – oh yeah
We weren’t born to follow – oh yeah
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Due to the rain and mud at the cemetery, only the pall bearers and immediate family were invited to follow in procession. There Pastor Gerald said the final words and Jesse was laid to rest.
Special acknowledgement and thanks to our pall bearers: Matt and Marc Hourigan, Jason Diffin, Jody Abbott, Nathan Ocheltree and Mike Czarnota.
Thank you Westwood Baptist Church for attending/watching the funeral service via live-stream. We miss our N. Carolina friends.
Joshua 1:9 (NKJV)
“…Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”
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9 Comments

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  1. Steve Adams / Mar 13 2013 1:32 pm

    It was a beautiful and fitting ceremony to kick off the eternal balance of Jesse’s Journey! We are all so blessed to have been a part of his life here on earth. You and Scott are wonderful, strong, faithful, and admirable parents and people. Thank you for being steadfast servant’s to our Lord and examples for the rest of His followers and those that see Him for the first time through you!!

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  2. Diane Snellenberger / Mar 13 2013 3:15 pm

    You all are such an inspiration. Your love, faith and strength is a testamony to everyone. Jesse is blessed to have you as parents and Savannah as a sister. The outpouring of love from everyone was something. What a celebration of all Jesse and you stand for. We were blessed to be a part of Jesse’s Journey and I am so thankful that he is no longer in any pain and running free. Prayers and hugs to you all.

    Like

  3. Donna Bryson / Mar 13 2013 4:18 pm

    An awesome and inspiring celebration of Jesse’s journey. What a tribute.
    God holds our hand through it all and will continue as the days go on….I know as HE has held my own hand. Isaiah 41:10 and Psalm 139:10
    HE holds our hand with HIS mighty right hand… PTL

    Like

  4. shellybelly12 / Mar 13 2013 6:00 pm

    My sweet friend. I so wished I could have been there for you. Please call when you have the heart too. I love you.

    Like

  5. Regina Bordelon / Mar 14 2013 6:27 am

    I lost my son at age 15 to leukemia16 years ago. This all brings tears. I have never found words to say what this all says so perfectly

    Like

  6. warnerm1 / Mar 14 2013 7:17 am

    Ingrid, you did an amazing job speaking at the service! I also appreciated all of the photos you had put together of Jesse’s entire life. To see him as a baby, and throughout his 18 years, showed what an amazing life you guys gave him. Only a portion of his life was this awful disease. He was so much more than the illness. Your circumstance has constantly reminded me to cherish each and every temper tantrum with my own son (he’s almost two so there are many 🙂 and I thank you for your strength and inspiration.

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  7. DeeCee / Mar 14 2013 2:42 pm

    My thoughts are with your family

    Like

  8. mike / Mar 15 2013 7:50 am

    Your family is truly special! Jesse and your family have touched so many lives.

    ML

    Like

  9. Liz Wilson / Mar 15 2013 6:17 pm

    Dear Ingrid,

    Thank you so much for the grace and closure you provided me and so many others by writing your Saddest, Most Memorable Day of My Life post. One of the unexpected things about going through hard times is how much you have to comfort those around you, letting them know that you’re going to make it– even helping them deal with their own hurt and confusion. You and Scott have done that so well and so generously. Again, thank you.

    I have thought so often about signing, dancing The Storm with you. I picture you still signing, Jesus sister, because you know that underneath the raging gale are His everlasting arms. May the three of you notice and feel those arms repeatedly in the weeks ahead.

    Love, Liz Wilson

    Like

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